Behold the Blue
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
sweet summer sentiments
For a local foodie like me, summer is a true delight.
The farmer’s markets are overflowing with colorful abundance and the berry bushes in my back yard are alive with color. Having fresh beautiful produce makes it easy to load up on nutrients without going very far.
I’m a big fan of wandering into my small urban backyard for a sweet treat and a little vitamin D.
But let’s face it. Summer isn’t always all fun and games, bright berries and slow sojourns. For many of us, “the lazy days of summer” don’t really happen. We’re on the go and over scheduled; trying to cram as much as we can in to our daylight-filled days. (I’ll admit I’m guilty here!) For the parents among us, the over-scheduling can also be due to the lack of scheduling. And the entire day can look like darting and dashing and lots of intention clashing.
Right as July nears its end and August is peeking over the sunny horizon, I find myself craving the slow-down diet, in every sense of the sentiment. I want to turn down the dial, step back and ask, what do I really need right now? (And, not surprisingly, the answer is never to do more).
eating a rainbow
The question of calorie counting comes up from time to time in my practice.
The truth is, I find counting calories to be unhelpful most of the time and to most people and their sustainable health and weight goals. You see calories can carry different things ~ some good, some not so good.
Consider this: a 100 calorie snack-pack of Oreo cookies may only be 100 calories but it clearly leaves something to be desired when it comes to nourishing your body and is most definitely causing more harm than good, robbing your body of much needed nutrients and leaving behind substances that your body cannot even process.
Instead of counting calories, I’m a fan of choosing nutrient-dense foods whenever possible. I’m betting you’ve heard this before but might need help putting it into practice.
Here are two simple rules will keep you in what I like to call “on the path” of healthy eating…
First, focus on eating whole foods as much as possible. If it comes in a box, bag or package ~ it’s likely NOT nutrient-dense (clearly there are some exceptions but they are rare!)
Second, focus on eating the rainbow. A plate filled with a variety of colors is a surefire sign of nutrient-dense foods. If you have kids, you might be teaching them this but are you doing it? Check out your meals today and maybe even keep score. Is your rainbow a little lackluster? What colors are you missing and where can you make some upgrades?
I find that even those who believe we’re already eating “perfectly”, can use this reminder from time to time. I now I can!
can you color your plate like a brilliant box of crayons?
Purples and blues are rare in the food world.
Like little nutrition nuggets of gold, blueberries (and their purple berry pals) pack a nutrition punch.
I promise, if you make your meals as bright and delightful as the most beautiful rainbow you’ve ever seen, your body and mind will thank you!
Read on for some blue-spiration including a one of my favorite smoothies.
Very Berry Smoothie
I must admit, I rarely follow a recipe for my smoothies. I grab and go with whatever I can forage in the fridge, freezer or from my garden. My smoothies change with the seasons (and my mood).
But I know it’s nice to have a starting point and this smoothie is the perfect summer smoothie blueprint. Celebrating the best of the summer berries!
- 2 cups coconut water/juice or water
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 1/2 cup dried goji berries, soaked
- 1 large handful spinach, parsley or cilantro
- 5–7 drops liquid stevia
- 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp. hemp protein or other protein
- powder of choice
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch sea salt
Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
7 Reasons to Bring in the Blue
- anti-inflammatory superhero
rich in antioxidants, blueberries decrease systemic inflammation and help cells repair quickly
- memory booster
research shows that blueberries may reverse some age-related memory loss and motor skill decline
- brain protector
berries contain unique phytonutrients, called proanthocyanidins, which protect the watery and fatty parts of the brain against damage from some environmental toxins
- blood sugar balancer
increase the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine to reduce sugar cravings and soothe depression
- cancer fighter
rich source of ellagic acid that has proven anticancer properties and encourages a healthy rate of apoptosis (cell death)
- fat burner
the catechins found in blueberries activate fat-burning genes and assist with weight loss (especially belly fat)
- gut goodness
blueberries provide a good source of pectin and contain anti-microbial agents that help improve gut flora
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